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Licensee hit with record Sky Sports damages

April 24, 2019

By Colin Mann

Following successful legal action taken by Sky, Trevor Fitzpatrick, the licensee of Gerald Griffin Bar, Cork, in the Republic of Ireland, has been ordered to pay damages of €37,800 for infringing Sky’s copyright by showing Sky Sports programming illegally in his premises. He was also ordered to pay costs.

Sky was seeking damages of €11,340 for the illegal screenings that took place over the period of a year. However, Sky had evidence that screenings took place over a longer period of time and the judge increased the damages to €37,800. In addition to damages and cost, Sky sought and was awarded a permanent injunction, which prevents the licensee and anyone acting on their behalf from infringing Sky’s copyright by showing Sky programming without the correct commercial licence.

Sky brought these proceedings against the licensee for infringing its copyright by showing Sky Sports to customers without having valid commercial viewing agreements in place. Sky Sports is only available to licensed premises in Ireland via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business or Virgin Media. Licensees that show Sky broadcasts without a commercial viewing agreement risk similar action or even a criminal prosecution.

“These rulings demonstrate the seriousness of the issue of showing Sky without a commercial agreement and highlight the consequences of televising Sky’s content illegally,” stated George Lawson, head of commercial piracy at Sky. “Illegal broadcasting is a serious issue that is damaging to the pub industry, which is why we’re committed to protecting Sky customers who are unfairly losing business due to this illegal activity. This case is just the latest in our efforts to ensure they are not left short changed.”

The successful case comes from Sky’s instruction of intellectual property experts Eugene F Collins and form a key part of Sky’s commitment to protecting pubs who invest in legitimate Sky Sports subscriptions. Sky is committed to visiting every licensed premises reported by other publicans and/or organisations for illegally showing Sky and visits hundreds of pubs each week in towns and cities across Ireland this year.

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